Why Rising Star Hilary Anderson Puts People First

Why Rising Star Hilary Anderson Puts People First

Having made the NZ Lawyer 2022 ‘Rising Stars’ list, Senior Associate Hilary Anderson continues to prove why she’s one of Cooney Lees Morgan’s most valuable assets.

“It’s nice to be recognised after 10 years with the firm and a lot of hard work serving a huge number of clients,” she says. “I’ve taken a number of Owen Cooney’s long-standing clients following his retirement from the firm and I’m thoroughly enjoying the wide variety of work that I do.”

Like all high performers, Hilary has a solid team of people around her whom she works closely with.  She currently assists in managing eight staff members and balances her time between private clients and property developers. 

“One of our busier property development clients deliver affordable, architecturally-designed townhouses with separate titles,” she explains. “They really push the boundaries and are dynamic to work with. We take care of their conveyancing, leasing and financing arrangements, do all of their development work and we assisted them in setting up a capital fund in 2020 to raise money from private investors. It’s always interesting working with property developers!”

People management is another area that gives Hilary a great deal of satisfaction and she has become a mentor to many of the junior team members.

“People are the most important part of this business. Growing people, engaging with people and problem-solving with them is my favourite part of the job.”

Hilary has helped supervise or directly mentor three colleagues through their legal studies in recent years. Two were recently admitted to the bar and Hilary had the honour of being their moving counsel. 

She says she owes much of her own career development to former CLM Partner Owen Cooney who taught her the importance of putting people first. “People bring their whole selves to work so you have to know what’s going on for them in order to get the best out of them on a day-to-day basis. You have to be flexible and give them the tools they need to succeed. He always did that for me and that’s my aspiration – to be authentic, be real and be there for people.”

In addition to her work at CLM, Hilary supports a number of organisations in the wider Tauranga community. She is a former committee member and chair of LINKT (the young professionals branch of Tauranga Business Chamber) and holds regular seminars for real estate agents, first home buyers and the banking industry.

“In the last twelve months I’ve given presentations to Harcourts and Westpac about the ins and outs of titles, how cross-leases work and their contractual obligations. I also help first home buyers understand how the legal process works and what to look for when engaging a lawyer.

“I’m from Ohope originally and I enjoy sharing my knowledge and helping Tauranga and the wider Bay to grow and thrive.”

Hilary’s contribution is certainly appreciated by both CLM’s Partnership team and the clients she engages with.

“Hilary is an extremely hard worker and a leader within our team,” says Partner Cameron Russell who heads CLM’s Property & Development Team. “Those that work with her know that she’s got their back and will always do what’s best for them and the client”.

“We get glowing reviews from all of the clients Hilary deals with. She makes everyone feel like they’re the most important client to the firm which can be difficult to accomplish in such a busy practice.”

Director of Wolfbrook Property Group, Steve Brooks, certainly backs up those sentiments, saying Hilary and her team’s efforts over the past seven years have helped the company grow into one of the South Island’s largest private property portfolios and become one of the top 10 largest building companies in New Zealand.

“We are not the easiest client and when it comes to needing sound advice, we need someone who can handle the way we like to do business,” Steve says. “Hilary's pragmatic approach to problem-solving and undeviating business style has allowed us to rely on her service. As well as matching our slightly competitive nature, she is happy to debate any problem with any solicitor or deflect things back into our office if self-reflection is required… when Hilary tells me she is right, I have no doubt she is right!”

Sentinel Homes BOP Managing Director Tony O’Brien agrees. “Hilary has been acting for us in property and section transactions along with building contract agreements. She is appreciated by us for her attention to detail and outstanding friendly service.”

Shelley Keill, Westpac Area Manager – Central North Island Mobile Mortgage Managers, says Westpac in Tauranga has had the benefit of Hilary’s expertise through presentations, seminars and a collaboration to educate their lenders and customers. “These sessions (often covering a topic requested by our lenders) have been invaluable and given our people the opportunity to ask questions and get answers directly from a relatable and approachable solicitor, in turn providing them with confidence in their discussions and interactions with our customers.

“Hilary has an ability to share her expertise with clarity and context and this was evident at our recent and very successful First Home buyers’ seminar where she presented to 75 prospective and enthusiastic first home buyers. Time is a precious commodity and Hilary has always been prepared to generously give up hers in the interest of supporting business partners to better serve and inform our communities. She has a fabulous professional and personal brand that she should be proud of.”

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